Today was my last day--it's been good, it's been heart-warming, but it's also been hard, as you would expect, to say goodbye to so many of these people. I was surprised that many of them were so sad to see me go. I don't even know all of their names, but they were coming up to me, wishing me a good journey, telling me that they will miss me so much. It makes me feel more than a little guilty to be saying, "Thank you so much! I'll miss you too!" and thinking, "And what is your name again?" No, but even if I don't remember their names and who they're related to, I will remember their faces and smiles every Sunday.
I got to sing a special for the Sunday morning service. More than a week ago, I chose a song for the occasion called, "More Precious than Gold"; I'd love to put the lyrics up, but between my faulty memory and copyright infringement, I'll just paraphrase. The song talks about how each life is more precious than gold or silver, and that there are many people all around us who have valuable souls and who need a Savior. It was a real 'heart-song' for me, and seemed to express and sum up my time in Samoa and my experiences with the people here.
The rest of the day flowed on by in the regular Sunday rhythm--I even got a two-hour long nap! Oh, and, of course, I packed. I'm only bringing back one suitcase and one carryon, and between all my new clothing and the various gifts that had been heaped on me on Friday, some of it is a pretty tight fit! As of now, I haven't actually had to stand on my suitcase in order to close it, but it's come pretty close....
The evening service was harder than the morning one. All the teen girls were there, all wearing the earrings I had given them the day before, all down in the mouth because I was leaving. We had a big 'photo-shoot' after the service, but none of the girls wanted to leave, so we talked for a while in the church. Then we walked out to the road. I shared some special verses with them and encouraged them to wait on the Lord in their lives and to listen to His voice when He directs them. It was a pretty dramatic farewell, but it lost a little something a few minutes later, as several of the girls were called back to help serve at my 'farewell dinner'.
Yes, the dear church people were throwing me a dinner! Someone had even made pizza, though I don't think most of you would have recognized it as such--it was bread crust, cooked with egg, topped with spaghetti-o's, egg, and hot dog bits. It was actually quite good, though it didn't really taste much like East of Chicago! I thoroughly enjoyed my last cup of Samoan cocoa, one of the best I've had since I've been here. Then there was a speech (naturally) from one of the older ladies, and a return-speech on my behalf from Miss Emi. Oh, and more gifts! Wow, the past few days have been more like Christmas than anything else!
I said my final farewells to many of the church folk, including Cololla, Luisa, Sesa, Hanna, Lopaki, Gau, and so many more. And now I'm here blogging. The packing is done, and all that needs to be done now is sleeping--we have a long day tomorrow!
Please pray for me as I travel, if you think of it. I'm so excited to see you all once again!
Oh, and as for the 'sunburned' part, I've been teased all day about the massive sunburn I got yesterday! You'll see some of it in the pictures, though I'm only putting up the ones that don't make me look like a tomato. Pastor Jim's been joking that I'll need to put a veil over my face to hide its radiance, like Moses did when he came down from the mount! :) Don't worry--it's fading already. I won't blind you when I get home. :)